By Linda G. Ritchie, Ph.D.
Conflicts can be expected to arise in even the strongest of relationships. Two people who attempt to create a relationship always bring their own issues, difficulties into the interplay that occurs between them. It is not at all unusual that the two people might find themselves, at times, in a deadlock. They see no way to break the impasse and to recapture the spirit of goodwill that they once had and would like to have again. Each party’s personal conflicts come into play and stifle the communication. Rather than confronting our own part in the problem, we may resort to blaming our partner – “If she (or he) would change, then we could be happy.”
While it is ideal for the two partners to agree mutually that there is a problem that needs to be confronted and to show an equal amount of motivation in solving the problem in relationship therapy, this goal is not always achievable. The reality of the situation is that one of the partners may not be ready to work on the problems – and the reason for this may be perfectly valid. For example, one partner may fear that working on the relationship could bring up other problems. Rather than condemning our partner for his or her inability to work on the relationship, it is far more productive to show respect for our partner’s view and realize there is a great deal that one partner, acting alone, can do to create a relationship which is happier and more fulfilling for both parties
Working alone on a relationship problem can mean that we have to take a look at our own issues and our contribution to the difficulties with our partner. While this challenge is not always easy, the payoff in terms of our own emotional wellness can be enormous, both for our own future personal happiness and for the success of our relationship. Working solo on a relationship may mean coming to terms with the anger we have fostered (perhaps for years), taking responsibility for our own happiness, breaking out of our old ways of seeing the world, changing our expectations about how we should live every day, and accepting the good in our relationship as being good enough. It may mean letting go of some of our most entrenched behaviors. We may even find that letting go can bring us tremendous rewards that we never expected.
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